Campus Life

2018 Central PA 4thFest to feature almost 12,000 fireworks

The 4thFest fireworks display begins at 9:15 p.m. July 4 on Penn State's University Park campus. For access to the best viewing vantage point — not only for the overhead fireworks, but also a ground show — visitors may purchase a VIP viewing pass. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Every year during the Central PA 4thFest — held July 4 on Penn State’s University Park campus and in downtown State College — there seems to be a new twist on a fireworks display that has been touted as one of the best in the country.

What new twist will visitors experience this year?

“We can’t divulge that information,” said Karl Libhart, executive director of the Central PA 4thFest, an event run by the nonprofit organization Central Pennsylvania July 4th, Inc.

While there may be some mystery involving this year’s fireworks display, which begins about 9:15 p.m., most of the day’s activities are no secret. A full list of the day’s entertainment can be found online, but a few of the highlights include the Firecracker 4K and 4-mile races, set to start at 9 a.m.; the Independence Day Parade, which kicks off at 2 p.m.; and new this year, a BMX Bike Show, which will take place at 1 p.m. on Allen Street and 4 and 6:30 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot.

For more details about the day’s events, including musical acts from quality out-of-town performers and local favorites, visit

While Libhart said local residents make up 80 to 90 percent of the 60,000 to 80,000 people who attend 4thFest, this year the number of local attendees is expected to be even higher than normal. Because July 4 falls on a Wednesday, more people may choose to forgo a trip to a more distant location during the holiday and instead celebrate at home, he said.

“Penn State has been a very gracious partner in all of this,” said Libhart.

But the event still carries a price tag of more than $200,000. These expenses are covered by sponsorships from local businesses, parking revenue, a grant from the Central PA Convention and Visitors Bureau, and smaller revenue sources.

4thFest by the numbers:

  • 60,000 to 80,000 attendees
  • Almost 12,000 fireworks
  • 45-minute fireworks show
  • 500-plus volunteers
  • 12,000 volunteer hours donated
  • $10 per car requested donation
  •  9 a.m.: Events start
  • Cost: More than $200,000

For access to the best viewing vantage point — not only for the overhead fireworks, but also a ground show — visitors may purchase a VIP viewing pass. VIP parking passes also are available, and both may be purchased through the Central PA 4thFest website, the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office, Red Line Speed Shine, EventBrite, or on the day of the event in the VIP area.

For more information about the Central PA 4thFest, go to

Members of the U.S. Army State College Recruiting Company fold a flag during a past 4thFest event. The theme of this year's 4thFest is "Pledge Your Allegiance." Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated July 03, 2018